CAM is an acronym for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Complementary usually refers to using a non-mainstream approach togetherwith conventional medicine. And, alternative usually refers to using non-mainstream approach in place of conventional medicine.
Today in the USA, more healthcare practitioners and healthcare systems are offering integrative health care (another term to mean CAM) to patients in treatment and to help the patient manage their symptoms of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.
I recognize there is a plethora of CAM therapies, but I find The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health definition useful because they organize many of alternative therapies into five categories.
- Whole Medical systems: Homeopathy and Osteopathic medicine
- Manipulative and Body-based practices: Acupuncture, acupressure, Alexander technique, aroma therapy, chiropractic, cranial-sacral therapy, Feldenkrais Method, Jin Shin Jyutsu, Massage, lymphatic therapy and dance therapy, physical therapy, Qi Gong, Shiatsu, trigger point therapy, neuromuscular therapy.
- Mind Body Medicine: Art and color therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Hypnotherapy, guided imagery, meditation, music therapy, Neuro-linguistic therapy (NLP), stress management, psychotherapy, Yoga therapy.
- Energy Medicine: Chi Kung Healing touch, Reiki, therapeutic touch, magnetic therapy and prayer, Touch for Health.
- Biologically- Based Practices: Biofeedback, herbal therapy, hydrotherapy, nutritional counseling.
It’s good to keep in mind that some individual aforementioned practices can and do fit into one or more of the other categories detailed above. You do not need to be ill or have a “dis-ease” to seek out one or more integrative therapies because some of these therapies are sought out to help promote wellness and personal development. I find that all integrative and alternative modalities can be highly effective, but I always inform my clients that all modalities heavily depend on the facilitator.
I come from a medical lineage on both sides of my family that practice both traditional and alternative medicine and I was no exception to following in one way or the other. I took an interest early on with working with cancer and elderly infirmed people. In the early 1990’s when I began working with Alzheimer patients, we obviously had little information about the disease and how to cope better with the sometimes reactive states Alzheimer’s patients live. Reiki (hands-on technique), for example, was one modality that seemed to calm the patients when they had negative outburst or experienced disorientation. The same positive effects of a technique such as Reiki or other hands-on therapies occurred with cancer patients.
At the time I was living in Colorado Springs – Colorado, I was surprised to discover that Penrose, one of the major cancer centers and hospitals did not offer cancer patients (or any patients) integrative therapies. The same was for hospice care. I encouraged a social worker at Penrose and together we created the first integrative therapies for Penrose Cancer Center. We offered Reiki, chair yoga, drumming, and already active, was a support group for cancer patients. I personally offered Reiki and frequent presentations educating both patients and staff about Reiki and other hands-on techniques.
Since a modality like Reiki was new to most of the staff, nurses and doctors, it was not only educational for them to learn about different hands-on techniques, but to experience it for themselves. And clearly the patients gained great benefits from the integrative therapies offered. Reiki, like many other therapies relieved the cancer patients from the negative side effects of chemotherapy, radiation and surgeries. It relieved physical nausea, pain and fatigue. It also helped them emotionally by alleviating stress, helped them cope with their fears and doubts, to name a few.
In the following weeks I will provide more information about Reiki and other integrative techniques. I will share some personal experiences that may help you understand more how to select criteria for choosing the right facilitator and modality for you.
I welcome any questions or dialogue that you may have.